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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews from Around Banderas Bay | December 2008 

Santiago Gonzalez Wins Primera Fuerza Plus National Tennis Open
email this pageprint this pageemail usBob Cohen - PVNN

Champion Santiago Gonzalez of Veracruz accepts the winners trophy from Puerto Vallarta Mayor Javier Bravo.

After the final, on the left is Santiago Gonzalez with finalist Victor Romero.

This was not just local sports news; writers and photograhers from newspapers and magazines all over Mexico had microphones and cameras, asking the champion questions right after the match end.

Honoring Mexican tennis legend Jorge Lozano are from left to right, Martin Parra, Director of the Canto Del Sol Tennis Club, Roberto Chavez, the President of the State of Jalisco Tennis, Jorge Lozano, Puerto Vallarta Mayor Javier Bravo, Javier Gitano, the President of Mexico Tennis and Martin Herrera, the President of Nayarit Tennis.

Mexico tennis legend Jorge Lozano thanking the crowd and tennis supporters in Mexico for giving him the opportunity to compete profesionally and play on the Mexican Davis Cup team.

Porfirio Godoy was in the background but was instrumental in making the tournament run smoothly, informing the press, supervising all aspects of the tournament. Porfirio is the ITF (International Tennis Federation) Chair Official and Event Supervisor for progessional tournaments in North America.

We were able to locate Victor Romero's broken racquet. Any player that went up against Santiago Gonzalez must have felt like doing the same as Romero.
The top ranked player in Mexico, 24 year old Santiago Gonzalez of Veracruz defeated 29 year old veteran and 4th ranked Mexican player, 29 year old Victor Romero of the State of Mexico in straight sets; 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in Sunday's final. That earned Gonzalez a new car valued at $150,000 pesos. Gonzalez, a tall and powerful player that also mixes his shots well and has a superb touch of finesse, did not drop a set all week in his five matches and didn't lose more than 2 games in a single set until his semifinal win.

Gonzalez held serve in the first set and broke Romero twice for a methodical 6-3 first set victory, but the crafty and resilient Romero broke Gonzalez in the third game of the 2nd set and then held serve to go up 3-1 and was leading 40-0 on Gonzalez' next service game, attempting to build a 4-1 lead on serve. Theses are times that we see what champions are made of and Gonzalez battled back to deuce and eventually won the game to hold serve and close to 3-2. That was the start of a streak that shocked and then demoralized Romero to the point of receiving a warning after slamming his racquet into the ground (a number of times). The racquet did break as well.

That streak included 5 of the last 6 games in the second set, which he won 6-4. Romero is a gentleman and his short burst of temper was not in bad taste and the crowd clearly felt for him, but at that point Gonzalez was unstoppable. The 3rd set began and Gonzalez' streak extended to 6 of the next 8 games in the final set that gave him the set 6-2 and a well deserved championship.

Prior to the final match; former Mexican tennis professional Jorge Lozano was honored for his lifetime achievement for Mexican tennis. Lozano reached at the peak of his career in August of 1988 when he reached the #1 ranking in men's doubles and 4th ranking in men's doubles in the world for that year. Lozano won 9 championships (all doubles); including two French Open mixed doubles championships.

His singles ranking reached 51st in the world. He represented Mexico in Davis Cup play for 15 years; from 1981-1995 and was recently named the captain of the Mexican Davis Cup team. Lozano resides in Guadalajara and directs a tennis academy for kids and also coaches the men's and women's teams at University Tec de Monterrey. Lozano won $739,000 USD on the professional circuit during his successful career.

Santiago Gonzalez not only won the singles championship but partnered with Bruno Echagaray in doubles to defeat Salvador De La Torre of Guadalajara and Carlos Palencia of Veracruz 7-5, 6-3 in the lone Saturday action for the doubles championship.

The Canto Del Sol Tennis Club hosted the largest professional tennis tournament of the year for Mexican tennis professionals and play began Monday at noon with a full field of 32 players. Supported by governing bodies AMTP (Association of Mexican Tennis Professionals) and FMT (Federation of Mexican Tennis) and sponsored by Primera Plus, the City of Puerto Vallarta and the Canto Del Sol Resort, the total prize purse of $150,000 pesos brought all the best Mexican professionals to Puerto Vallarta to compete in the event. The top six ranked Mexican professionals competed and 8 of the Top 10 were in the tournament.

After the Friday best of five semifinals, all but two of the 32 were eliminated and the championship match was set. After the afternoon semifinal that saw 4th seed Victor Romero of the State of Mexico defeat unseeded Daniel Langre of Mexico City 6-0, 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 the remaining semifinal drew a large crowd as top ranked Santiago Gonzalez of Veracruz; the best tennis pro in Mexico had his toughest match in the semis against 3rd ranked Bruno Echagaray of the State of Mexico. Top seed Gonzalez also is the highest seeded Mexican player on the ATP Tour, ranked at #235. The 3rd seed Echegaray is 2nd best on the ATP Tour, ranked #390 in the world. The first set went to Gonzalez 6-4 with only one service break won in the 7th game.

The second set was a complete contrast as the first five games all had service breaks before the players settled down to go to 6-6 and force a tiebreak. Echagaray went ahead 3-0 in the tiebreak and it appeared the match would be tied, but Gonzalez won the next four points to lead and ran out the tiebreak 7-4 to go up two sets. The third set was on serve until Gonzalez broke at 3-2 and held serve to move to within a game of the finals at 5-2. Again, the top seed broke serve for a 6-2 final set victory in an action packed emotional match.

The purse is as large as an AMTP event gets, as this is the Grand Finale of the year for Mexican professional tennis. The champion Gonzalez won a new car (unknown what car at this time) and 2nd place was worth $30,000 pesos to Romero. Semifinalists earned $15,000 pesos. Almost as important will be the points awarded, as they dictate rankings which is what the players strive to improve. The champion received 250 points and the finalist earned 187.5. The point and money allocation decreased as the finishers lost earlier.

To put the prize purse in perspective, many Mexican professional tournaments carry total prize purses of $5,000 - $10,000 pesos. Two large tournaments played recently at the Canto Del Sol had total purses of $50,000 pesos, in itself a large purse for a Mexican tournament. This total purse is $150,000 pesos, which is why players have traveled from all parts of Mexico to compete.

The Canto Del Sol tennis courts had a two week long facelift in preparation for the tournament and future play. The surface was leveled and now painted blue for better vision. Large crowds were in attendance throughout the tournament and during the finals it was hard to find a seat. Dignitaries were in attendance and Puerto Vallarta Mayor Javier Bravo was a presenter to Jorge Lozano prior to the finals and to the champion Santiago Gonzalez.

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